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Retrieving the Ancients: An Introduction to Greek Philosophy Paperback – June 18, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1405108621 ISBN-10: 1405108622 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 1 edition (June 18, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405108622
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405108621
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.9 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #192,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"David Roochnik offers a well-paced and highly accessible narrative of ancient Greek thought. Retrieving the Ancients is a much-needed primer for teaching undergraduates the value of early philosophy." Daryl McGowan Tress, Fordham University

"This is a jewel of a book... A must for everyone." Journal of Classics Teaching

"The best written and most lucidly argued single volume survey of ancient Greek philosophy... a book that manages to be bothe philosophically sophisticated yet accessible to undergraduates" Journal of Ancient Philosophy

Review

"David Roochnik offers a well-paced and highly accessible narrative of ancient Greek thought. Retrieving the Ancients is a much-needed primer for teaching undergraduates the value of early philosophy."
Daryl McGowan Tress, Fordham University --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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This book is a great introduction to Greek philosophy.
Matt
The Presocratics' purely philosophical reasonings led to a worldview very similar to the modern scientific one.
kaneda
This is an excellent overview of Greek philosophy up through Aristotle.
Robster Lobster

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By K. Kehler on September 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
If there's a more graceful, convincing, learned and moving introduction to ancient thought out there, I don't know it. This work is philosophically deep, and yet not cold to the language, style and emotions that moved the various authors (Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle) to philosophize, teach and write. Roochnik lays out the history of ancient thought in four chapters (Presoc., Sophists and Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). Moreover he refers to contemporary thinkers, and to our near contemporary Nietzsche, from time to time, in order to show the relevance of classical thought to philosophy today. (He also briefly compares The Symposium to Macbeth.) The book culminates in a defence of Aristotle that I find convincing (because, as I see it, Aristotle combines philosophical insight with a interlocking picture of how things hang together, while giving us a robustly commonsensical account of what the human animal is, and can be). But the chapter on Plato is sympathetic and compelling too, if unorthodox -- because it finds a tension in Plato's discussion of the city between the ideal and real (usually expositors find only an emphasis on the ideal).

Anyhow, here's a snippet of the writing; Roochnik has just quoted Heraclitus on lice in fragment B56:

"Knowledge is like lice. If it is grasped, it is lost. Only if it is missed is it kept. There is a necessary elusiveness in Heraclitus' writing. It is meant to articulate the fluid alterations of temporal beings. It is designed to do justice to the negations of temporal flow. His logos, therefore, must be enigmatic. Were it not, it would be false." (37.) ... "Heraclitean flux seems to shake the ground under our feet. Nothing endures. Such a thought may well cause despair. If nothing endures, then one might conclude that nothing matters.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Greg Abrams VINE VOICE on January 31, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really good book for those wanting to gain an understanding of the early Western ideas of philosophy. Roochnik guides the reader from the "founders" in the so-called Milesian School all the way through to Aristotle. Having read Plato earlier in life, it was quite interesting to learn how the dialectic that culminated in Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy initially formed in the Pre-Socratic days of Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes, Heraclitus, Parmenides, and others. I'm especially fascinated with Heraclitus and his idea of flux...the perpetual becoming of all things. This idea is also presented in the Buddhist doctrine of annica, which outlines reality as fundamentally impermanent and indeed, in continuous motion and change.

Roochnik goes on to describe the many additional thoughts that grew out of the early naturalist ideas that were themselves responses to the mythic framework that had been at the forefront of Greek culture for centuries. A great deal of the contemplation surrounded notions of the arche, or First Principle, of the world and all creation. The naturalists of the Milesian School looked to the elements - fire, water, air, and earth - to find the foundation of all things, while other philosophers posited an "unmoved mover".

The ancient Greek thinkers offer a great view of our earliest inklings of higher thought as a species and the intellectual steps taken to arrive at the epistemological foundation that would ultimately lead to science as we know it today. In my opinion, Retrieving the Ancients is an excellent introduction to this area of study.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By kaneda on August 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an excellent introduction to philosophy, accessible to the layperson. Roochnik's dialectial style (where one view is presented, followed by it's opposite) weaves a great narrative of how philosophy changed from the Presocratics to Aristotle. I think this is a great way to teach philosophy... by showing how it contrasts with what came before.

I would advise the reader not to dismiss offhand the views of the Ancients because of their lack of scientific knowledge. Read about what they thought and why, given what they knew at the time. The Presocratics' purely philosophical reasonings led to a worldview very similar to the modern scientific one. Take Democritus for example who came up with atomic hypothesis.
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